THE ULSTER QUESTION
BY THE MARQUIS OF LONDONDERRY, K.G.
In the Home Rule controversy to-day Ulster occupies the place of public interest. Lord Rosebery upon one occasion committed himself to the opinion that, before Home Rule was conceded by the Imperial Parliament, England, as the predominant member of the partnership of the three kingdoms, would have to be convinced of its justice. He did not foresee that the party of which he was then the leader would, under duress, abandon even the pretence of consulting the “predominant partner,” much less be guided by its wishes. But it has come to pass: and Ulster alone remains the stumbling-block to the successful issue of the plot against the Constitution. By Ulster we do not mean, as Mr. Sinclair points out, the geographical area, but the district which historical events have made so different in every respect from the rest of Ireland.
In the Act of Union I have a personal interest from family connection. I am convinced that Lord Castlereagh was absolutely right on both Imperial and Irish grounds. I feel that so far as Ireland is concerned the conditions and position of Ulster to-day afford ample confirmation: and of Ulster I may claim to have some knowledge. I represented County Down in the Imperial Parliament at Westminster before it was divided into constituencies, and in my later days I have maintained my close interest in Ulster. At the least, then, I may say that the temperament, the political and religious convictions, and the character of Ulster Unionists are not unknown to me.
I often read of “the Ulster bogey;” and I believe Mr. John Redmond once devoted an article in a Sunday paper to elaborate statistical calculations from which he drew the deduction that there was no Ulster question. Other Home Rulers, by an expert use of figures, show that there is a Home Rule majority in Ulster itself. To those who know Ulster their efforts fail to carry the slightest conviction. Figures, however skilfully chosen, articles in the press, however cleverly written, cannot destroy the facts of Ulster Unionist opposition to Home Rule, the intensity and seriousness of which is, I believe, only now beginning to be appreciated by His Majesty’s Ministers.